10 Tips for Shooting Video in Houston
They say everything is bigger in Texas – and Houston is no exception! As a city, Houston is larger than the entire state of Maryland. When you think of Houston, the picture that probably comes to mind is giant oil refineries; however, Houston is a thriving economic center and one of the country’s most up-and-coming cites. It is home to 26 of the Fortune 500 companies – second only to New York’s 72 – as well as the world’s largest concentration of healthcare organizations and is one of the nation’s top cities for job creation. In addition to Houston’s booming business center, it also has tons and tons of green space, boasting the more parks than any other top 10 metropolitan area.
10 – With Houston being as large as it is, it’s no surprise that it’s incredibly spread out. It’s important to know all of your film locations ahead of time – especially if you’re on a tight schedule – and map everything out. The 610 inner and outer loop make the city very easy to get around, but be wary of driving distances.
Crews Control represented DP Everett Gorel gave the following information on relative distances in Houston:
“IAH George Bush International is home to United Airlines, and is about 30 minutes to an hour north of downtown. Hobby Airport is a Southwest hub, and also a much smaller airport. It’s an easier “in-and-out” airport than IAH, and about 20 minutes south of downtown – but there are fewer flight choices.”
9 – Every city has its own quirks when it comes to dealing with traffic. With Houston’s growing economy one local journalist went as far as to write a list of unwritten rules for circumnavigating traffic. Read up on them here.
8 – Houston is HOT. This isn’t a surprising fact, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re shooting outdoors. While shooting an interview outdoors will make for a lovely background, your executive in business attire will probably be sweating through their blazer. If you absolutely have to shoot your interview outside, it’s well worth it to hire a makeup person.
7 – There are plenty of great places to capture stunning B-roll in Houston. You can grab a great shot of the city skyline from Eleanor Tinsley Park on Allen Parkway. “This particular shot faces due east,” says Gorel, “which gives you several possibilities – you can get an early morning backlit sunrise, general sun at midday to a low angle, and more direct sun or “sunset afterburn” at the end of the day.”
6 – With Houston’s growing industry in medical research, it’s important to know the restrictions of shooting in a hospital or medical lab. The Medical Center is about 10 minutes from downtown, which is also conveniently located to several hotels. If you’re planning a shoot at The Medical Center, logistics can be difficult so allow plenty of buffer time for parking, off-loading, and getting your gear from your van to the shoot. Rolling carts for our equipment can be invaluable because distances in the tunnel access in and between hospitals are substantial.
5 – The energy companies in Houston are mostly located towards the far west side of town, so your shoot needs will very likely dictate your location. There are lodging options near this part of town, but this will take you away from everything else in town. If your shoot is interview-only, there are places to stay on this side of town; however, if your shoot requires more than just interviews and testimonials, it’s advantageous to keep yourself centrally located.
4 – When it comes to permitting Houston is a little different from other big cities we’ve covered. Unlike the majority of big cities, permits aren’t required to shoot in Houston. Few exceptions include if you need to close down a street for a shoot or if your shoot is in a large public area like a City of Houston park. If you need to capture b-roll in a large public place like a mall, you’ll need permission from the property management ahead of time. When it comes to permitting, always check with the film commission to verify if your shoot needs a permit, and if it does Gorel tells me they’re inexpensive and very easy to obtain.
3 – Houston Film Commission is well-known for going the extra mile to help out crews with whatever they need. For any questions about locations or permit requirements, they are readily available and extremely easy to work with. It’s worth reaching out to them, especially if your shoot qualifies for Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program.
2 – When it comes to trade shows, Houston does not have particularly strict union jurisdiction for video crews. The part that may affect you is at the George R Brown Convention Center; there is union jurisdiction over dock area services, so if you have a large amount of loading and unloading to do you may be required to work alongside union workers. Do your research – never go into a location without knowing union requirements.
1 – Last but not least (and quite possibly my favorite) food in Houston. I received way too many suggestions from our Houston crews to list them all here, but some highlights include Goode Company Barbeque (which I’m told is authentically Texas), Ninfa’s (a Houston institution), and Pappa’s Steakhouse (which is, according to our crews, the best piece of meat you’ll have in Houston). If you’re crunched for time, why not kill two birds with one stone? Hugo’s, another place for authentic Mexican, is located in the Montrose neighborhood just outside of downtown. It’s modern, bohemian, and a great place to grab some unique b-roll.
Whether it’s one of Houston’s many sports teams or their booming economy, the growing city is a fantastic place for a corporate video production. If you have a video project in or around Houston, we have you covered. Crews Control represents the most talented and creative crews in the world. Click here for a free quote. Don’t forget we’re also on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!